By Zaheer E. Clarke
Published July 31, 2017
Hypothetically, Jamaica could snag up to 15 medals at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London. However, what is the realistic haul we should expect?
If Track and Field was a perfect world and only Jamaicans were the stars, Jamaicans could mine up to 15 medals in London at the 2017 IAAF World Championships starting next week. The popular predictions have Jamaica winning anywhere from 9-11 medals. However, are these predictions realistic, ultra-conservative or bold? I think it is time for Track and Field’s Nostradamus to be bold and deliver his predictions.
Of the 50-plus member contingent going to London, nine athletes in all – five men and four women – are ranked in the top-6 of 10 events this year. Oh, and by the way, the prodigious Usain Bolt is not among the nine. Therefore, if we add Bolt, seeing he is an anomaly we cannot debar from any conversation – outside of the relays – there are 10 Jamaicans with a theoretical opportunity to capture 11 medals in individual events.
If we add a medal in each of the 4x100m and 4x400m relays for the men and women to the 11 from individuals events, Jamaica could win 15 medals hypothetically. Hence, that is how we got up to 15 medals possible in London. However, that is the theoretical evaluation. Let us look at what is practical and realistic.
Starting with the men, Yohan Blake in the 100m and the 200m, Usain Bolt in the 100m, Omar McLeod and Ronald Levy in the 110m hurdles, Fedrick Dacres in the discus throw and O’Dayne Richards in the shot put are the possible medal contenders.
Yohan ‘Blessed’ Blake is ranked in the top-6 based on times in both the 100m and 200m, that is, at number two and at number six respectively. His best chance to medal might be in the 100m, albeit, he has Justin Gatlin, Andre de Grasse, Chris Coleman and his stablemate Usain Bolt as his main rivals. I am predicting a medal for him here, the colour of which I cannot tell but let us say a bronze medal for now.
Bolt’s demonstrated form, on the other hand, has not been arresting or awe-inspiring this year, but that has been his mantra for the past few years before every championship. Will his luck extinguish or will his impenetrable plan fail this time? I am expecting gold or at worst silver for Bolt. So, that is two medals from the sprints and both from the men’s 100m.
In the 110m hurdles, Omar McLeod and Ronald Levy are Jamaica’s best opportunity at a 1-2 finish this year in an event. With both ranked number one and number three in the world this year and with each beating the other, it could be a stellar showdown in London. Hurdle races are tricky business, so don’t sleep on the Russian and reigning world champion Sergey Shubenkov or the world record holder Aries Merritt, who both have returned to exquisite form. If McLeod or Levy slips up, then Shubenkov or Merritt will pounce. Nevertheless, gold and silver is the prediction.
Fedrick Dacres, the former youth and junior discus champion, is a legitimate gold medal challenger in the men’s discus. He has the second-best throw of the season, three of the top-six, and in fact, 10 throws above the qualifying mark of 65.00m. His main competitors for the podium and the gold medal should be Sweden’s Daniel Ståhl and Lithuania’s Andrius Gudžius. Nonetheless, for me, Dacres is presaged to mine silver or at worst, bronze, though a gold medal would be a pleasant surprise.
O’Dayne Richards, the bronze medallist in the men’s shot put at the last world championships, has been finding impeccable form late this season. Two weeks ago, Richards threw a personal best and a new national record of 21.96 metres. In my opinion, to guarantee a medal in London, Richards, who is the fifth-best thrower this year, will have to throw above 22 metres. The unsentimental expectation is that he will fall just short of the podium. Nevertheless, another bronze would not be considered a bombshell.
For the women, the hopefuls include Elaine Thompson in the 100m, Shericka Jackson in the 400m, Danielle Williams in the 100m hurdles and Kimberly Williams in the Triple Jump.
Barring something unpredictable, such as injury or the second coming of Christ, Elaine Thompson seems like the sure winner in the women’s 100m. So far this year, she has clocked 10.71 and 10.78 seconds, the two fastest times of the year. If she is able to regain the form she exhibited early in the season, the gold medal and nothing short of a personal best and a new national record is anticipated.
In the women’s 100-metre hurdles, Danielle Williams is the fourth fastest woman down to compete at the Championships. The reigning world champion, Williams, is considered third fiddle behind world record holder Kendra Harrison and former Olympic and world champion Sally Pearson, who is coming off a serious injury in 2016. Nonetheless, due to Williams’ championship mettle, she is forecasted to capture – at least – the bronze medal and will have American Nia Ali as her main rival for the final podium spot.
In the women’s 400 metres, Shericka Jackson, a bronze medallist at the last world championships and the Olympics, is fancied to capture the bronze medal again. Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and world champion Allyson Felix are the main contenders for gold and silver. Jackson, however, will face a serious challenge from the American trio of Quanera Hayes, Phyllis Francis and Kendall Ellis for the bronze. Nevertheless, her championship mettle and raw speed should have her prevailing but it will be an immense battle.
Kimberly Williams in the triple jump is ranked fifth this year. Her chances of a medal are slim, and as for me, she will have to produce a personal best like she did in Moscow in 2013 in order to come anywhere close to a medal. And even then, she might fall just short.
In the men and women’s 4x100m relays, Jamaica is reckoned to clinch gold and silver respectively. For the women, if USA’s baton woes return or if an elite thoroughbred like Thompson is anywhere close to the US, gold might not be out of the realm of possibilities.
For the 4x 400m relays, the experienced Jamaica female team and reigning world champions are expected to mine silver with a strong USA team getting the gold easily. The inexperienced men’s team have some brave runners and have a realistic chance at the bronze. However, anything above a bronze medal will be an overachievement and an event shocker.In all, Jamaica has the possibility of capturing 15 medals at the World Championships. However, no championship is perfect. Unexpected events always occur and predictions have to be revised. Hence, I am going with 12 medals in London: eight individual and four relay medals.
Table 1. Jamaica’s Projected Medal Haul at the 2017 IAAF World Championships
|4 Gold||4 Silver||4 Bronze|
|Men’s 100m||Men’s 110m hurdles||Men’s 100m|
|Women’s 100m||Men’s Discus Throw||Women’s 100m hurdles|
|Men’s 110m hurdles||Women’s 4 x 100m relay||Women’s 400m|
|Men’s 4 x 100m relay||Women’s 4 x 400m relay||Men’s 4 x 400m relay|
Until next time…
© Zaheer Clarke
Zaheer E. Clarke is a multi-award-winning freelance sportswriter, blogger and columnist.
This blog article was published in the Western Mirror on July 31, 2017.